One of the key differentiating factors between The Flash and Arrow(ok DC live action adaptations in general) has been that when Barry Allen, played by Grant Gustin, smiles it actually looks like a natural and authentic emotive response. The Flash is psyched that it has super powers and craziness. As joyful the series is, it is still part of the larger mainstream superhero cannon which means keeping with the basic tenets super heroic narrative. No matter how godly these characters are treated and viewed they are fallible, a trait that is often linked to their origin. Sam Rami Spider-Man has been a major tonal refrence point for me when describing this series to friends and family. Episode 3 “Things You Can’t Outrun” takes moment to dramatize and vocalize the emotional trauma that makes these characters do these things in the kind of obvious fashion that gave us “with great power comes responsibility”. At the same time it has a man who can turn into poison gas so it’s not a total angst fest.
As it turns out being able to move at super speed is a useful and powerful skill to have. It allows you to run 3 miles away grab a crazed driver from a car and deliver him to the police so fast you can’t even crack wise, and be back before Iris turns around to notice you were gone. That is the kind of event that would make one wonder about say breaking into a maximum security prison and busting your dad, who is in there for a crime he didn’t commit, out in a flash. He would be free in an instant gratification achieved. But, as Joe points out such a use of power would be nothing but a selfish action and perhaps leave him off in a worse situation. Suddenly you’re hit with pain on two fronts, that feeling you get when you realize you’re being a selfish jerk and the helplessness born from the lack of action.
Focusing on Barry’s Dad and his wrongful imprisonment while a useful avenue for exploring this theme, feels a bit over used. If they had Barry stick to a normal monologue intro the show would be reminding you about Wrongfully Imprisoned Dad every darn week, but that’s a downer and this show isn’t about that. I’m not sure how I’d feel if episode scribes Alison Schapker and Grainne Godfree went the more typical route of disempowerment by having Barry say miss our killer, Kyle Nimbus aka The Mist, taking out someone by only seconds, separated by some air tight un-openable door of course. It would have certainly fused the emotional arc of the episode with the overall plot arc of this episode in much clearer terms. The insistence on Barry’s father just feels over played as an effective emotional card at this point, we get it already.
There is this theory in melodrama that we as an audience and the characters enjoy such obvious over displays of emotion because it is cathartic, however often the problem still remains. Faced with the death of her fiance’, Ronnie Raymond( Robbie Amell) all Caitlin can do is react that way. “Things You Can’t Out Run” flashbacks delve into the perspectives of our resident science team on the night of the explosion. I guess there is no way such a sequence could operate but on melodramatic terms given the trauma it caused. Revisiting that event allows for more Danielle Panabaker and exploration of Caitlin Snow, who is a character that requires a bit of nuance since Cisco has the “Cool” guy down. With what has been shown Panabaker has been doing a workman like job, it’s admittedly a bit over dramatic and some of the dialog is clunky. Also gotta setup the eventual return of Ronnie (and Dr. Martin Stein) and possible villainess tendency’s from Ms. Snow.
Kyle Nimbus was a throw away villain, a character there more for plot function but that was necessary. Anthony Carrigan does your typical psycho killer shtick, the way his mouth moved prior to killing the judge was particularly freighting. Most importantly he wasn’t gunned down or dropped from an elevated position! He makes it out of “Things You Can’t Out Run” alive and in a completely illegal make shift prison built in the accelerator ring. If the ACLU finds this place; man if Harrison thought FEMA was harsh.
Nimbus’ gas abilities were translated over rather well. I particularly enjoyed the economy director Glen Winter and the production team found with the staging of the fight. The final showdown takes place in a deserted highway that thanks to some B-Roll esque footage is elongated to appear to be miles long but in actuality is a fairly small stretch of road made to appear extra long. Grant Gustin actually talks about the differences in fight staging between it and Arrow here.
So Harrison feels like he’s waited for this moment (turning on the accelerator) for centuries…Vandal Savage CONFIRMED. Jokes aside the myster of Harrison Wells continues to be emphasized just the right amount that it isn’t overly played as a BIG SECRET, the series is playing it cool while everyone else is getting all hot and bothered with the mystery.
Bits At The End
So Joe knows about Iris and Det. Pretty Boy, now how are they going to integrate Iris but keep her at arms length? Hopefully she’s in on the secret by the end of the season if for no other reason than Laurel Lance is a GREAT example how that kills a character.